When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 


  1. Her, a near future depiction of a world where the OS on our computing devices is far from artificial and much more intelligent (the incredible episode, “Be Right Back,” from the UK’s transcendent anthology television series, Black Mirror, goes one step further), is at once a haunting and depressing reality and at the same time a stunningly provocative and beautiful commentary on the increasingly blurred lines of our connectivity.  The technology may be a few steps ahead of today (Siri is still getting her feet wet as a reliable assistant), but the emotional understanding could not be more current.
  2. The “Him” in Her is played with a delicate accessibility that has been vacant in the more recent career of the always great Joaquin Phoenix.  The result is immediate buy-in.  This allows his relationship with “Her” to come alive in reality and not in fantasy (Can you imagine Phoenix’s character from The Master or that weird, bearded rapper he played in real life interacting honestly with an OS?  Nope.).  “Her” is performed by Scarlett Johannson in what may be the most memorable vocal acting performance since Robin Williams’ genie in Aladdin.  Ms. Johannson’s seductive tones and “I just woke up on a weekend morning” rasp create an immediate allure.  Her chemistry with Phoenix is undeniable.  They are as genuine and honest as both characters believe the relationship to be.  Subsequently, the audience does not for a moment question the veracity of their feelings and openly accepts the possibility of this technological advance.  (One additional note: Samantha Morton originally portrayed Samantha.  She was on set, in the room, responding live and Joaquin was responding to her.  When Spike Jonze’s team went to record the dialogue in the studio, it just wasn’t working, so Johannson was brought on as replacement.  To know that Johannson’s performance was responding to only footage and tape of Joaquin’s performance is even more impressive.)
  3. Well played, production team of Her.  The production design and costumes of Her create a near future of mustaches, high wasted pants, and retro colors that make sense and speak to realistic fashion trends.  The technology design has a simplicity and artfulness that is rooted in the already established movements in the field.  The musical score adds a lush color to the already transformative visual mosaic.  Its melancholic beauty is tone affirming,
  4. Her, by a wide margin, features my favorite Amy Adams performance of the year (Take that Man of Steel and American Hustle).
  5. Her is a film set in the future that has both currency today and will have continued resonance as it ages.  Although very much a byproduct of a soon to be now, its timeless relationship truths are as universal as its title.

Let’s Get A Few Things Off My Chest: MLK Day Edition

From time to time, I need to get a few things off my chest…this is the first installment of 2014.

• I have never been a regular viewer of network Late Night television (SNL is the exception) and struggle with the traditional monologue/guest/guest/lesser known guest format, but this may have to change (at least through the DVR access point).  I watched the Jimmy Fallon Best of Late Night Primetime Special last week and was thoroughly entertained and impressed.  He does some hilarious things, especially with any form of musical parody, any collaboration with Justin Timberlake, and any time the Roots are involved (I never would have known that the band I struggled to connect with on those spring days on Foss Hill at Wesleyan would become the house band of The Tonight Show!).  I am all in on Jimmy as the host of The Tonight Show and am ready to see what Seth Myers will do with Late Night.  In the branches of the Lorne Michaels tree of comedy prosperity I trust.

Here are some of my favorite Jimmy Fallon clips:

An a cappella version of “Can’t Stop”:

The “Sesame Street Theme” with childhood instruments:

A lip sync battle between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Merchant:

The “History of Rap” performed by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon:

The “Reading Rainbow” theme sung by the Doors:

• Yes, yesterday’s Patriots AFC Championship game loss to the Denver Broncos was a disappointment (and a crushing blow to a potential Super Bowl hosting party gig), the grieving period will be short-lived.  As a lifelong Boston sports fan, I have both experienced my share of devastating losses (I am looking at you 2008 Super Bowl, 2003 ALCS, 2010 NBA Finals…I could go on) and thankfully, an embarrassment of the richest successes beginning with the first time Brady and Belichick combined forces almost twelve years ago.  The 2013-2014 New England Patriots overachieved amidst a who’s who of best player loss to injury (Gronk, Wilfork, Mayo, and most recently, Talib), free agency (Welker, Woodhead) and incarceration for murder (the increasingly vile tale of Aaron Hernandez).  The defensive offsides penalty had already been thrown on much of this free play of a season, so to even be within one win of the Super Bowl was something to celebrate.  Yesterday, the best football team won.  As Bill Belichick’s full calendar of 2014 draft preparation already shows, it is time to move on to next season.

• The Oscar nominations woke up the West Coast Thursday morning with some surprise inclusions, notable omissions, and endless questions about what the rationale behind the decision to have Chris Hemsworth (“a super hero amongst us”) announce them could have been.  My strongest lingering takeaways:

The Academy dug The Wolf of Wall Street.  With acting nominations for Leonardo DiCaprio (an on the fence possibility going in) and Jonah Hill (considered to be even further on the outside looking in), Martin Scorsese’s eighth directing nomination, and a Best Picture nomination among the field of nine, there is a renewed momentum for this relative latecomer to the awards season party.  After his Golden Globe win and facing a field that does not feature once thought to be juggernaut competition from the likes of Tom Hanks and Robert Redford, I think he has a legitimate shot at winning his first Academy Award.

Speaking of Tom Hanks, his exclusion from the Best Actor race is the hardest omission for me to stomach.  His performance in Captain Phillips (nondescript New England accent aside) was vintage Hanks and deserved to be recognized.

I was most pleased that Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen were nominated for Best Song, but it made me uncomfortable when Cheryl Boone Isaacs had to say, “You may know them better as U2.”  Would she have had to similarly qualify the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

I have six movies to see before the March 2 ceremony in order for me to have fulfilled my viewing quota in the six major categories (Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Director).  Those movies are, in order from “I want to see you” to “this matinee feels like a chore”: 1. Her (always on my list), 2. Dallas Buyer’s Club (I am all in on the “2014 Year of McConaughey” train), 3. August: Osage County (my all-time favorite stage play but not sure about the film version), 4. Nebraska (“Will Forte!”), 5. Philomena (one of those trailers that does not inspire, but the words from mouth that I have heard have been universally praising), 6. Blue Jasmine (I am not sure I want to have a relationship with Woody Allen pictures going forward).

• The second episode of Real World: Ex-Plosion may have been slightly more tolerable than the first, but I am still struggling.  Any chance that Doug will return for more tomfoolery?

• Sherlock came back to US audiences last night and was a most welcome return.  Perhaps as a consequence, it took me two sittings to get through the second episode of the more melancholic and morose True Detective.  I couldn’t help but think that I had already watched the true detective.

• In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, this lullaby of hope never loses its power.  It’s also by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen:

Finally, welcome back Captain Rajon Rondo.  We missed you.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company.


With television’s recent array of Golden Age shows (many would argue that Mad Men is the last of this early 2000s bunch) coming to the end of their runs (and in Mad Men’s case, it will be a long final lap – the final season is being drawn out over two years – AMC!), the next wave of contenders are all vying for their standing in our DVR queues and paid streaming service binges (as enabled by the passwords we mooch off our parents).  2013 was a masterful year of television.  It brought us some most promising new dramatic series talent (Masters of Sex, The Americans, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black), brilliant material from our British friends across the Atlantic (Black Mirror, Broadchurch), a most welcome return of the mini-series (Top of the Lake), some established shows continuing to find their sweet spot (of which Game of Thrones was my favorite), and the best season of television I have ever seen (the final season of Breaking Bad).

2014 is ready to build on this momentum with dozens of most intriguing upcoming shows (I have “summer” already circled on my calendar for the premiere of The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof’s post Lost television project on HBO), most welcome returns of old flames (even 24 wants some of the good will), and the continued maturation and evolution of a medium that is at the center of the collective pop culture conversation.  I will be commenting every few weeks on the many television musings that come across my path throughout the year, make recommendations, and will try to make sense of the changes in the “what” and “how” of how we consume our TV.  There is no better place to begin than last night…


Some of my television-centric takeaways (there will be no Jacqueline Bisset sanity inquiries here)…


• Although Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains the only fall 2013 new network show that I consistently watch each week, I admit that it is still finding its comedic and storytelling footing.  Its win for Best Television Series – Comedy and Best Performance by An Actor in a Comedy Series for Andy Samberg were both a bit of a surprise and may be a little before their time, but I like this symbolic vote of confidence.  With The Office and 30 Rock gone, The Mindy Project mired in an unfortunate vortex of quality inconsistency, Modern Family recycling most stories, and the brilliant Parks and Recreation a brutal victim of NBC’s horrendous scheduling decision quality and on its likely final local government campaign, the network single camera throne is up for grabs.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine may just have the goods to take it and with a full season already ordered and a coveted (and unexpected) post-Super Bowl slot to showcase it to the masses, the Golden Globes wins may be a harbinger for promising things to come.  After so many too early show cancellations, the thought of the great Andre Braugher with a stable job is the ultimate form of television justice.  I will be rooting for it.

• Apparently the people in charge of the seating chart didn’t get the memo that the people winning television awards would need easy access to the stage.  The Breaking Bad creative team seemed to have to journey from a room across the street to accept Best Television Series – Drama.

• Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were as lovely as ever, but I thought last year’s hosting performance was more memorable.  Something seemed to be a little too produced this year, whereas last year had a more organic feel throughout (this does not include Amy Poehler’s make out session with Bono after her award acceptance).

• Speaking of Amy Poehler and awards, her win (finally!) for Parks and Recreation could not have been more deserved.

• Although NBC must be happy with the best Golden Globe ratings in years, the biggest television winner of the night may have been Lorne Michaels and his Saturday Night Live empire.  With Amy and Tina hosting, Amy and Andy winning comedic acting awards, and as the heavy promotional material kept reminding you, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Myers starting new late night gigs in February, it is a good time to be Lorne.  Even SNL alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus was game for some of the best gags of the night.

• Aaron Paul loves award shows and loves opportunities in which he can be Jesse Pinkman again.  There is no one more excited for the 2014 Emmys.

• Line of the night from Tina Fey: “And now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.” Zing!  Leo, who deservedly one Best Actor in a Comedy Film, could not have taken the roast more graciously.



Just about the time when P. Diddy sang “Let it Flow” and confused the audience after U2 won its Best Original Song Golden Globe for “Ordinary Love,” HBO unleashed its new anthology series, True Detective, starring movie stars Woody Harrelson (an old television veteran) and Matthew McConaughey, the early frontrunner for “Best 2014 of any person on Earth” (the Golden Globe win for Best Actor in Dallas Buyer’s Club later in the evening is just the beginning).  Harrelson and McConaughey play Louisiana detectives investigating a brutal, satanic murder in 1995.  Storytelling uniquely combines interviews from 2012 with flashbacks to 1995.  True Detective’s first season (and the only one Harrelson and McConaughey will appear) will run eight episodes and complete a serialized mystery story.  According to showrunner Nic Pizzolatto, future seasons will star different actors and will feature a different central mystery.  The conceit is intriguing on its own, but, after watching the premiere, the show has the potential to be something really special.  Its unique voice and vision are already clearly defined (each episode is written by Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Kukunaga) and the performances, especially McConaughey, will win awards.  I will write more on it as the season progresses, but for now, you cannot ask for a more engrossing first hour of a series.


In what can only be seen as accidental counter programming, the Girls season three premiere (two episodes!) debuted right after True Detective.  Early trends include much more Adam and Shoshana (both are great things) and a focus on the relationships of these girls to each other as opposed to these girls to their respective, challenging lives.  Some of season 2 landed as a reaction to the unnecessary and unyielding criticism mounted on season 1 for reasons unbeknownst to logic.  My hope for the uber-talented Miss Dunham here is continue to make the show that she wants to make.  Already, some of the humor that had drifted away last season seems to be back (I will gladly take more scenes between Adam and Shoshana!) and I think Marnie will only benefit from having Charlie completely out of the picture (Apparently Christopher Abbott wasn’t sure he wanted to play the character anymore.  Oops.).  I will definitely be spending some quality time with HBO on Sunday nights for the foreseeable future (Another piece of gold in its 2014 treasure chest of riches had its coming out party last night as well. HBO released the first trailer for the fourth season of Game of Thrones.  Yep.)

Real World: Ex-Plosion


Finally, the premiere of season 29 of The Real World debuted on Wednesday night.  If you have spent any time on the Bishop and Company site, you know that my relationship with The Real World and its amazing offshoot, The Challenge, is longstanding, loyal, and passionate.  Despite trepidation about the new format – the true story of seven strangers picked to live together and then…Surprise!  Your exes are also moving in – I was obviously going to give it a shot.  My true story after Wednesday – I hated it (critics seem to agree).  Yes, the exes have not moved in yet (as the countdown clock won’t seem to let me forget), but the show I watched on Wednesday night was not The Real World that I have given so much of my viewing lifeblood to watch.  Obviously, The Real World has been a different show than its original version, a social experiment dealing with real issues and the reality tv pioneer, for some time now, but this show did even resemble the positive things about recent incarnations.  Everything on it felt forced and overtly contrived, from the camera crews capturing the acceptance phone calls, to the decision to show boom mics and cameramen on person, to Ashley’s phone call to production about where they were going out that night.  Because the exes conceit is its central premise, we are inundated with conversations about exes and all the potential ensuing drama.  I wasn’t having any of it.  Begrudgingly, out of loyalty and respect to this beloved franchise, and to scout for future The Challenge competitors, I will at least stick around to see how the exes arrival goes down (25 days!), but I am considering jumping off of this sinking ship.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company.

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Holiday Season Edition

When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 

It’s been a while.  ’Tis the season to be busier than usual and this holiday season proved to be a formidable foe to free time.  Consequently, this post will feature not one, but three movies that I have seen in recent days and weeks.  Let us hope that the beginning of 2014 affords more time…


  1. I trudged out of the movie theater into the bristly cold, New England night after the three hour runtime of The Wolf of Wall Street believing the following things to be true: I was exhausted, I needed a shower to clean myself from the unrelenting visual debauchery of the cocaine hooker-ville that was this latest Martin Scorsese picture, and I DID NOT like the movie I had just watched.

  2. I also believed the following things to be true: I had just witnessed the best acting performance of 2013, the best acting performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, Martin Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas (I am looking at you, The Departed), and a masterpiece (despite the length and the redundancy of misbehavior) of a movie.

  3. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely phenomenal in The Wolf of Wall Street.  His performance as the morally incompetent, but toxically charismatic wolf, Jordan Belfort, is physically and emotionally fearless, breathtaking scene after scene after scene, and as naked (literally and metaphorically) as I have ever seen Leo.   Here, he is the movie star he was always destined to be – free from any inhibition and constraint to cruise control (and frequently out of) his way through an unyielding barrage of the baddest behavior.  His scene work and chemistry with fellow actors is the best of his career and rivals his work with Kate Winslet, his professional star-crossed lover.  Although content-wise, I would not recommend The Wolf of Wall Street to many in or out of my circle, for anyone who enjoys the movies, you must see this pinnacle performance of Leo’s career.

  4. Although appreciating and respecting his body of work and fully believing he is the on the Mount Rushmore of American filmmakers, I have never been on Team Scorsese (I play for Team Spielberg and more recently, for Team Nolan).  What makes Martin Scorsese prolific has never aligned with what I most love about cinema.  Notwithstanding, The Wolf of Wall Street is a great Martin Scorsese movie and it is hard to believe he could possibly ever have had as much fun making a movie before.  Scorsese creates a vast playground for his actors to take unheard of risks, push every possible button of squeamish discomfort and unchecked mayhem, and to challenge each other to go there.  Every actor in the movie is on some level of awesome and career best (The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal was my biggest surprise performance and could not have strayed further from the dopey anguish of Shane).  Jonah Hill (brilliantly cast) gives Leonardo DiCaprio his best and most consistent scene partner (their several near death flirtations in the movie are the clear frontrunners for best scenes), but I may have been even more impressed with Scorsese’s work with the relatively green, Margot Robbie.  She matches the brilliant DiCaprio during each of their marital trysts slap for punch (as excruciating to watch as it was) in a way that speaks to the free creative expression on-set environment that Scorsese must have crafted.

  5. The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie, unlikeable, oftentimes unwatchable, and certainly interpretable as not an indictment, but rather a glorified celebration of the filthy excess and monetary tomfoolery of the protagonist’s world, that provides an exhilarating, exhausting, awesome cinematic ride.  It is not out of contention as potential motion picture in the foreseeable future as either a tentpole of DiCaprio and Scorsese’s outstanding careers or sooner, if critical momentum leads to some Academy Award success.

American Hustle


  1. American Hustle, portrayed as a cacophony of the 1970s (in music, fashion, culture, and sleaziness) in its trailers, does not disappoint in its period pizazz, but rather in its totally messy storytelling and filmmaking.  Much of its direction and focus feels arbitrary.  It is a movie about too many things so that the ultimate result is that is about nothing at all.

  2. As one could expect from a David O. “character is my focus” Russell film, many of the performances in American Hustle are strong.  Bradley Cooper has a tremendous amount of fun and seems to have been given free reign over his dialogue.  Christian Bale is in method mode, forty pounds heavier, and doing some skillful physical acting.  Although Jennifer Lawrence, America’s muse for over a year now, is woefully miscast and far too young for the part, she manages to sparkle and shine through many of her scenes.  Amy Adams manages to salvage much of the confusion surrounding her character with some expected professional work.

  3. These strong, scene-chewing performers and characters could have all carried their own movies, but put together in American Hustle, they amount to very little.  The parts are far greater than the some in this case.

  4. If meant to be a crime caper, American Hustle lacks the requisite scintillating plot twists.  As a picture about governmental corruption, it puts its foot in the water for too brief a second to matter.  As a movie about a combustible love triangle among relatable characters, it is just too confusing.

  5. American Hustle is a movie that, despite its on paper goods, fails to connect, to entertain, and to inspire any passion.  Without a full understanding of what it aims to do and be, the audience are the ones who are left feeling hustled.

Saving Mr. Banks


  1. Saving Mr. Banks does not focus on the making of Mary Poppins, but rather on the courtship of Disney, in the form of Walt (played with American Dream warmth by Tom Hanks) and his writing team, to P.L. Travers and all of the curmudgeonry that comes with her in a belabored attempt to acquire the rights to her book.  As Mrs. (do not call her Pam!) Travers roadblocks each intersection of the direction that Team Disney wants to take, we are more exposed to how her childhood in the Australian Outback may inform her decisions in the present than to why it matters to her now.  The flashback connections do not always yield logical results (seriously though, why not the color red?), and we are left with the impression that Mrs. Travers is just being difficult.

  2. If you are going to see Saving Mr. Banks, it will be worth it to set up a Mary Poppins refresher viewing first.  Much of the whimsy, effective writing, and referential fun of Saving Mr. Banks is in comparison and with a heightened understanding of the motion picture, Mary Poppins.

  3. Although there is a some reasonable chatter contesting just how historically accurate this telling of the Mary Poppins rights acquisition is, the vision of early 1960s Disney studios, Disney hotel welcome packages, Disney rehearsal room door decals, and Disneyland Main Street USA autograph seekers are all a series of the most delightful period movie ornamentation that I have seen in some time (and an appreciated pace change from the bombastic sites and sounds from the seedier scenes of the movies discussed earlier).  For a studio where “movie magic” seems to be one of the ultimate goals, mission accomplished.

  4. Just to clarify: Saving Mr. Banks, a story about the writer of the book that became the movie Mary Poppins (one of the most successful motion pictures ever made by Walt Disney Pictures) and her dealings with Walt Disney, was made by Walt Disney Pictures.  As mentioned, access to certain forms of visual authenticity may be appreciatively enhanced, whereas the objectivity in regards to the less favorable side of all things Disney (including the portrayal of Walt himself) is harder to value.

  5. Saving Mr. Banks is a delicate, delectable, and most pleasant movie that aspires to create a tale of great emotional power (the flashback trope is a constant visitor) out of something far simpler.  When centered on P.L. Travers battles with Walt Disney and the Sherman musical tandem over details and content, there is certain “inside the actor’s studio” intrigue (especially since I had seen Mary Poppins just hours before).  There is additional interest in Travers’ childhood flashback world, but when an attempt is made to fully understand her present obstinance out of her past memories, we are left without knowing really what to say.  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, indeed.